Give Thanks For…?
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5)
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and… your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11-12)
For about 25 years I hosted the Wells Thanksgiving Day meal. No matter where I was appointed, my parents and brothers and family would come to my home for the one time of the year when we all committed to come together. While there was indeed joy, portions of the gathering were uncomfortable, especially when it came to the subject of giving thanks! Mother would insist that we have a sharing time as we stared hungrily at the sumptuous table filled with good food right in front of our eyes. The focus for most of us at that moment was more on filling our stomachs than soliloquies of gratitude! It was reminiscent of the long dinner prayers that my preacher grandfather would give at thanksgiving meals of the childhood. One particularly memorable time was when I used the “five kernel” conversation starter. My niece and nephew were quite young and going around the table five times to express thanks for something in our lives was just too much!
One difficulty of sharing what brings us gratitude is that because the question is often posed individually and personally, rather than globally. At worship last Sunday a new pastor pointed out the passage from 2 Corinthians as a reminder of the ways that the generosity our lives can create a chain reaction of thanksgiving among others and toward God! This year let us think of how our lives have helped create thanksgiving in others, because of the actions of our giving and our service. Giving of ourselves in the name of Christ creates thankfulness, which leads to more giving and ultimately brings glory to God!
I was touched by an interview of people at a meal program who expressed thankfulness for the generosity of others; they were in crisis times, but the giving of others filled their hearts with gratitude. One 63-year-old gentleman indicated that he would be spending Thanksgiving on a park bench under blankets giving thanks; his stomach would be full because of others and he would remember the joys and blessings of previous thanksgivings. Let us remember what God is doing all around us because of the generous spirit and tangible giving of the people of God. I do thank God in my remembrance of you, my United Methodist family!
Gracious God, from whom all blessings flow, fill our hearts with gratitude this day and all days. Open our eyes to see all the ways that you send blessing and hope throughout the world through the people called United Methodist. We praise you for abundance we receive and the generosity we share so that all may know the richness of your mercy and grace. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.